News Release

* Iran Drone * Russia Protests * Nobel Prize Betrayal


The following analysts are available for a limited number of interviews:

REESE ERLICH, rerlich at
Foreign correspondent Erlich’s books include The Iran Agenda: The Real Story of U.S. Policy and the Middle East Crisis and Conversations with Terrorists: Middle East Leaders on Politics, Violence, and Empire. He said: “The CIA has now acknowledged that a spy drone went down in Iran. Iranian authorities say their military shot it down; the U.S. maintains there were mechanical problems. The incident has forced the U.S. government to admit for the first time that it is conducting regular spying on Iran. Officials claim that the U.S. uses drones to look for an Iranian nuclear weapons program. More likely, the U.S. seeks information about existing conventional weapons and potential responses to a U.S. or Israeli military attack.

“The recent incident reveals that the U.S., not Iran, is the aggressor. The U.S. has used the excuse of a supposed nuclear weapons program to engage in spying, arming of ethnic guerrillas and targeted assassinations against Iranian scientists. Yet even the CIA and other intelligence agencies admit that Iran has no nuclear weapons program and is years away from developing an atomic bomb.”

Reuters reports: “Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s opponents hope to bring large numbers of people out onto the streets across Russia on Saturday for rallies that will test their ability to channel outrage over allegations of election fraud into a powerful protest movement.” Katrina vanden Heuvel is editor of The Nation and co-author of the book “Voices of Glasnost: Conversations With Gorbachev’s Reformers.” She said today: “In many ways, The Dec. 4 election results, despite real voting abuses, show discontent, change in the real political landscape in the country. Perhaps most important, and virtually ignored by the corporate media, is that the Russian Communist Party is now the country’s leading opposition party; many voted for it as a protest vote.

“What hasn’t changed is that Vladimir Putin will (likely) easily be elected president in March. Despite the growing and real public disillusionment with his rule, he remains the most popular politician in the country. And in the time between now and March, the Kremlin will — no doubt learning from its experience with these elections — become more adept at using its ‘administrative resources’ — state and Kremlin oligarchical money and control of state television — more effectively to make sure there are no similar setbacks in the March presidential election.

“In many other ways, though, we are witnessing a changed political and social landscape. The air of infallibility Putin has enjoyed — and counted on –for the past decade is gone. … Russian civil society is engaged and active in ways not seen since the Perestroika period of 1986-1991. (That may be one reason why former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the architect of perestroika, has called for new elections.)

“Corruption, abuse of power by elites and inequality have been fueling citizen protest and anger for many years. (And Western liberals should not avert their eyes from the powerful Nationalist movements — also part of civil society — in today’s Russia.) What’s different this time around is that activists, journalists and ordinary citizens have the ability to spread feisty viral videos on such issues on YouTube, or on ‘Zhivoi Zhurnal’ — Russia’s Facebook equivalent — ‘tvitter’ and on other internet outlets which remain fairly free and open (despite the control of television). The use of the new media was clear during the parliamentary vote as electoral observers, opposition figures and ordinary citizens saw documented abuses for all the world to see.”

Author of the book The Nobel Peace Prize: What Nobel Really Wanted, Heffermehl argues that the Nobel committee has violated the terms of Alfred Nobel’s will, which established the prize. He said today: “Dec. 10 will be a day for celebration and joy for everyone in this world and at least half the world will have a good personal reason to love the Nobel Committee, since this year the prize celebrates women and their equal rights and role; but, unfortunately, not so much their essential role in the struggle for peace and disarmament.

“The committee chair, Thorbjørn Jagland, said, when he presented the winners on Oct. 7 that the prize was awarded in support of the cause of women and their democratic rights. Why is he so adamantly keeping the purpose Nobel had in mind a secret? Nobel wished to support global disarmament through global law and strong international institutions. The committee consists of retired party hacks, who have during all their political lives supported a strong military force and the NATO alliance — their political leanings are the direct opposite of the peace vision that Nobel wished to support. Friends of the military cannot be the right persons to award a prize for disarmament.”